Ahmedabad: After a lot of dilly-dally, the state forest department has gone for a DNA analysis in a bid to reunite two lioness cubs with their mother.
The samples of the cubs and the lioness, suspected to be their mother, were taken recently and sent to Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad for DNA analysis, said a senior forest official in the know of the matter.
The results of the DNA analysis are awaited, he added. The development comes more than three months after the forest department rescued three cubs near Virpur village from Visavadar forest range. Earlier, some forest officials at Gir had tried to conclude that the cubs were ‘abandoned’ and that there was no trace of their mother.
This is something unheard of, according to wildlife experts as Asiatic lioness are not known for deserting as many as three cubs altogether. The suspected mother, whose sample is taken for matching purpose, was captured by the forest department for attacking a child. The incident took place, a fortnight before the cubs were found.
The lioness was released in the last week of October after the forest department’s investigation showed that the attack was an accident and she was not a man-eater.
What happened next made field staff of the forest department believe more strongly that the captured lioness could indeed be the mother. For she, upon her release in Rajpara area of Visavadar forest range, ran all the way to Virpur village, about 35 kilometers away. The lioness, who has been radio collared for tracking purpose, made roaring calls as if she was looking for her cubs. “But there were no attempts by the forest officials to try and bring the cubs in close vicinity of the lioness in a well-guarded manner,” said a wildlife expert close to the matter. The cubs were put in Sakkarbaug zoo where one of them died.
Soon a senior forest department official ordered an inquiry into the matter. As a result, the DNA testing of the cubs and the suspected lioness was done in the presence of chief conservator of forests (CCF) of Junagadh Circle. The results will now show if the cubs can be united with their mother or is this a rarest of the rare case where three lion cubs were abandoned.